Microsoft Ventures’ Big Data startup Frrole raises $245K in angel round

Bangalore-based Frrole, a Big Data startup, has raised $245,000 (Rs 1.5 crore) in angel funding from eight angel investors and entities from India and US led by Sharad Sharma (former head of Yahoo! R&D centre in India), Google’s India MD Rajan Anandan and Eka Software founder Manav Garg through crowd funding platform LetsVenture.

The news was first reported by TechCrunch.

Atul Singh (president Asia Pac for Coke), Sunil Kalra and Bhupen Shah (Sling Media/DishTV) and IIG (India Internet Group) too are among the angel investors. With this round, Sharad Sharma joins the board. The investors hold a combined stake of 23 per cent, a top company executive said.

“The funds will be deployed over 15 months in expanding to Southeast Asia, mainly Singapore and Indonesia, besides building operational capabilities and expanding its reach within India,” said Nishith Sharma, who co-founded the company with Abhishek Vaid and Amarpreet Kalkat.

“We will start looking for a Series A round after a year,” Sharma added.

Anirudh Suri, managing director, IIG Advisors, said, "The co-founders are an excellent team, and are extremely well placed to help customers across various sectors to develop contextual, real-time understanding of their users on social media and other platforms."

Frrole, which was part of Microsoft Ventures Accelerator’s 2013 winter programme, had launched its Twitter data-based offering targeted at media and entertainment verticals. It is a social intelligence engine that performs analysis across millions of data units in real time. It uses this analysis to build a local buzz graph where Frrole knows what each neighbourhood, city and country is talking about.

This Twitter data-based offering has three components—data APIs that allow clients to access Frrole data streams and use them to build or plug into any application and a visual suite that allows clients to select and integrate plug-and-play display applications into their products. It also comprises solutions allowing Frrole to work closely with clients for a large project that requires complex data interactions.

It has 15 clients, including Times of India, MSN, UTV, Headlines Today and Indian Express, among others.

The company charges $100 per month per data stream and says it expects to generate revenue of Rs 5 lakh for this month. “We will have an annualised run rate of over $1 million this year,” said Sharma.

As of now, the startup claims to analyse over 10 million tweets daily and has sifted through over 100 million tweets since January this year.

“While our system is at a small scale (about 3 per cent of twitter data), we have better data models/algorithms/intelligence than many of our peers. We will continue to build out better layers of semantic analysis and some new layers of contextual analysis,” said Sharma.

He added that the firm would probably build algorithms targeted at verticals beyond media and brands, and might go for retail and a few other sectors.

“There is something we have experimented with, we call it ‘Behaviour as a service’. We also plan to open up our algorithms themselves as services. The way Amazon built their internal infrastructure as a service and then just opened it up as AWS, we have build almost everything as a service,” Sharma said.

Globally, Frrole competes with Mass Relevance, Wayin and Flowics. None of these players is present in the Indian market.

The funds have been raised via LetsVenture.com, an online platform that brings investors and startups on one domain. The Bangalore-based venture was set up by Shanti Mohan, Manish Singhal and Sanjay Jha in May last year.

While Mohan and Singhal are serial entrepreneurs, Jha was VP-product engineering at Aptean. Mohan has also worked at Hewlett-Packard (HP) as senior programme manager prior to being a business consultant. Apart from helping startups raise investment, LetsVenture allows them to get their business plans reviewed by experts as well as connect to mentors.

Earlier, fans merchandising venture Bluegape had raised funds through LetsVenture.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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